landlord reference

Dodgy questions

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Self employed client asked me to fill in an online reference for his first flat.
I had to attach last year's tax return. I then had to give figures separately from that tax return (presumably because the letting agency staff wouldn't have a clue otherwise.)
Then I got a question about current income. So I put in the same net profit as on last year's tax return (which in this case was rather low due to a large capital allowance.)
Had the client had an unusually high income last year I wouldn't have wanted to put that.
There was no option to say I don't know what the income will be for the current tax year.
How do you handle this type of questionnaire?

Replies (9)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
28th Feb 2023 10:01

I tend to ignore whatever the form is, and just do it how I think it needs doing.

If its an online form, then I will often just email back not least so I can put in all my disclaimers in. They may grumble 'this is not the system', but they accept it if you put your foot down and say "this is my system"

Thanks (1)
By SteveHa
28th Feb 2023 10:16

I have often highlighted that I don't possess a crystal ball, and so it is impossible for me to speculate on future events.

Thanks (3)
By Michael Davies
28th Feb 2023 10:17

The last time I looked there is a standard ACCA reference.”We have no reason to believe”

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Replying to Michael Davies:
By Moonbeam
28th Feb 2023 10:41

So what do you do when there's no option to put anything but a figure?

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By Truthsayer
28th Feb 2023 10:43

I simply say I don't know what the current income is, and nor does anyone. I only supply information that is objective and quantifiable. If they ask for opinions or projections, I refuse.

Thanks (1)
By Roland195
28th Feb 2023 15:06

For what it is worth, I don't believe that a human being sees let alone reads the responses to this - it presumably generates a message that the form has been completed so box duly ticked and then fed back to the landlord as a pass on their comprehensive background check.

I also have my doubts as to what risk, if any we accountants believe we are exposing ourselves to. I don't write anything that isn't factual & qualify my statements with the best of them but I don't seriously believe anyone has any real interest in pursuing a claim against me in the case of a residential let. No aware of any real life examples otherwise.

From what I can tell, most agents are moving towards these same systems that give no option for explanations, qualifications or other weasel words. As said, you can refuse write/email instead - I've never had anyone really object to this either to be fair but conscious of the fact that sooner or later this is going to cost my client the tenancy or whatever.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Roland195:
By Moonbeam
28th Feb 2023 15:45

It was worries about my client getting the tenancy that concerned me most, but I am also concerned about the letting business asking me to tell them a figure I don't know.

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Replying to Moonbeam:
By Roland195
28th Feb 2023 16:05

I suppose you put whatever you feel appropriate, follow up with a email outlining although you entered a figure in the box, you only did so in order to progress and then add the usual "no reason to believe" etc qualifications and everyone's a winner - your backside is duly covered (from the vanishingly unlikely risk of consequence anyway) client gets his new gaff, Letting agent duly demonstrates earning their fee and Landlord secure in the knowledge that the boy probably earns close to the arbitrary figure needed (although may still be prone to alcohol, gambling, drug, mental illness, redundancy or any other far more likely to effect the ability to pay).

Thanks (1)
Replying to Roland195:
By Moonbeam
28th Feb 2023 16:48

Thank you Roland195. I think you've solved my problem well.

Big issue is that I'm unlikely to have an email address for the letting agent as they'll be using a do not reply email address to begin with.

I suppose I'd insist in future that client provided a good email address for letting agent before I started my reply.

Luckily this is the only client who's a tenant, so might not have to worry again for a while.

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